Friends. I don’t often kill a non-fiction book in two days (too many notes to write.) But the Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack? I legitimately got hand cramps from the notes I took and I read the whole thing in less than two days.
The Fifth Vital sign is now a book I will recommend with the same passion that I evangelize Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler with and for many of the same reasons.
Lisa Hendrickson-Jack presents an evidenced-based body of work with over 1,000 scientific references to improve your body literacy and ultimately your health.
There has been something I have wanted to try for a few months and because of how the clinic was growing and how my life was changing I didn’t have the right kind of time. But that time is now.
All week I come across podcasts, articles, memes, and stories about doula care, midwifery care, motherhood, kids and health in general. While I can share these to my Facebook page (and often do) I wanted to take some of the coolest ones and share them here.
So, I’m going to do an experiment: I’m going to start collecting the best ones throughout the week to put them here on the blog. I’m hoping that these small but deeper dives will allow spur future blog post ideas (like this one did) and allow you to find out what’s going on in the natural health world.
In the last post, I spent a ton of time on a difficult topic: the health risks of mommy wine culture.
We don’t like to look at it. We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t like to hear about it. Just let us have our wine and relax. We worked 98 hours this week and we’ve earned it.
For some of you, it was a hard read. For some it was eye-opening. And for a few of you, it was “alarmist bullshit.” One particular mom said that I should be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. When I asked her what the solution was she said,
The solution is for you to mind what’s in your glass and stop worrying about everyone else.
I get it. I do. And maybe if I wasn’t a healthcare practitioner, minding my own glass would be easier. However, alcohol isn’t good for anyone.
According to the World Health Organization,* “overall there is a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and more than 60 types of disease and injury. Alcohol is estimated to cause about 20-30% of worldwide esophageal cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, homicide, epilepsy, and motor vehicle accidents.” Every year, alcohol causes 1.8 million deaths.
So why, then, has #winemom become a growing hashtag? Why has this mommy wine culture simultaneously become a joke and a social movement? And why is it just moms?
Why are we willing to risk depression, anxiety, weight gain, osteoporosis, premature menopause, menstrual irregularity, infertility, systemic inflammation, stomach issues, gingivitis, impaired decision making, heart disease and a wide variety of cancers for the relief of a single glass of wine at the end of the night?
Because it’s our only choice.
At some point our society stood up and said that we would rather sacrifice the health and well-being of our mothers than to give them the community and support they need.
“Just keep a bottle of wine in the bathroom. You’re going to need it. Trust me, it’s the only alone time you’re going to get.”
This is an actual piece of advice I got while I was pregnant.
Because of the person I am, I chose not to challenge her in the moment. But honestly, it rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t until recently I finally nailed it down: why is wine the necessary component of alone time? Why did I have to hide the wine in the bathroom?
Why has wine become synonymous with relaxation and self-care for moms?
Mommy wine culture is a thing, but we don’t limit it to just wine. Jokes extend to beer, vodka, margaritas, mimosas and marijuana. And while there’s nothing wrong with drinking in moderation we have to ask ourselves – why is alcohol the socially accepted answer to mama needing to relax.
Spring carries the energy of the maiden – the prepubescent girl with her whole life ahead over her. Summer is the young mother, pregnant or having just given birth. Autumn is the experienced mother, still guiding her children, but watching them make their own decisions.
Winter is the time of the crone.
If you look at the definitions of crone online you find:
an old woman who is thin and ugly.
Or that she’s cruel, malicious or sinister.
But if you dig into the archetype of the crone (affiliate link) or listen to the stories women tell each other about old women you see something different. You see a wise woman who uses the lessons she’s learned in life to guide those younger than her to the right path.
The crone teaches us that death cycles are inevitable. Winter always comes, age marches on and one day, we too will be grandmothers. And that scares us. It scares us in the way the nadir of death cycles always scares us. We don’t like cold, we don’t like darkness and we don’t like endings.
But every woman who menstruates will one day go through menopause. That process will mark the end of her reproductive days. As an ending, that’s scary. As a process, it can be frustrating.
This post has two purposes: to give you a guide through menopause to make the transition from mother to crone (or Wise Woman, or Grandmother) go more smoothly and also to show you that as part of a cycle it may be an ending, but it is not the End.
When you work with the seasons and death cycles, you learn that decline is a part of life and it’s usually a healthy part of the process. Trees wouldn’t flourish in the summer if they didn’t rest in the winter, the day doesn’t happen without the night and we wouldn’t continue our reproductive cycle without healthy menstruation.
Have you been told your entire life that your period is gross, something you shouldn’t talk about, something shameful or even, sinful?
What would happen if you saw it has a healthy sign of ovulation and embraced it as a time of rest? My bet is that it would be life changing and if you’re interested you should definitely read on.
Featured image and cover photo by Tyler Lastovich from Pexels
Did you know that up to 75% of mothers will experience the baby blues postpartum?
The baby blues are an emotional and mental shift that happen when the cocktail of pregnancy hormones rapidly decreases while at the same time, a mother learns how to interact and care for her new baby. It’s a stressful time but it tends to be relatively short.
But 10-20% of mothers (and some new research shows that it may be higher) will develop postpartum depression, which has more severe symptoms than the baby blues and can but the mother’s life in danger. Postpartum depression or PPD often develops six months postpartum and sometimes as late as one year.
I go into more detail about the differences in this blog post but for this blog post I’d like to say right now: if you are showing signs of depression including withdrawing from friends and family, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy and having no interest in the baby talk to your midwife or primary care provider.
Flower essences can be very supportive in helping with emotional and spiritual shifts and are a powerful energetic medicine, but PPD can be life-threatening. Make sure that you have a support system in place before supplementing your care with flower essences.
Flower essences on their own? No, probably not. But while flower essences and Traditional Chinese Medicine are two separate systems, TCM theory opens the door to using flower essences as part of a natural birth plan.
Many births are delayed and labors prolonged because of the emotional and hormonal state of the birthing person. Birth can be stressful and scary, and sometimes we’re carried away by the hormones tearing their way through our systems. Flower essences can help bring us back into harmony, and anchor us in a place where we can trust the process, relax into the flow and enjoy the beauty of our graduation from parent to parent to be.